Mon, Jan. 27

1875: FIRST FAMILIES; Preston W. Burford Family, August 23.

Preston W. Burford married Elizabeth A. Hornbeck on April 8, 1858. They were married by H. Brasher, a Justice of the Peace, who filed the marriage document on April 26, 1858, in Cedar County, Missouri. Pres. Burford and "Parson" James C. Bristow were members of the same Baptist church before the war."

During the War Between the States, Preston W. Burford served in the 26th Missouri Militia, Company B. He applied for a pension on February 15, 1893. (United States Civil War and Later Penson Index, 1861-1917; National Archives and Records Administration.)

The 1870 Census, Head of Household Index, Washington Township, Cedar County, Missouri, lists #83, P. Burford, age 35, a farmer, born in Virginia (wife and 4 children), living next to his brother, #82, Benj. Burford, age 25, a farmer, born in Missouri (wife and 2 children).

According to "Parson" James C. Bristow, Charlie Buster wandered out west and traveled to Arizona Territory. He wrote a letter from the Salt River Valley giving a glowing account of the area. Pres. Burford, who knew Charlie Buster well, read the letter in the fall of 1874, then decided to move to Arizona. The "Parson" Bristow family decided to join Pres. and his family. "Parson" Bristow traded his ranch for about 20 cows and 3 young fillies, and already had a team of 2 yoke of oxen.

The families who decided to go to Arizona Territory lived in different settlements. Some families with ox-drawn wagons left their homes on April 26, 1875. They gathered at a place near Humansville, Missouri, then left there on the 11th day of May. These were the families of: Preston W. Burford [Elizabeth Ann (Hornbeck) and 5 children], "Parson" James Clawson Bristow (grandson of William, son of Peyton) [Luranda C. (Smith) and 5 children] with James W. Human [Mary (Bristow), daughter of "Parson" Bristow], James Oliver Bristow (grandson of William, son of Edward) [Sarah J. (Puthuff) and 7 children], "Brother" Lett [wife and 2 orphan children], James G. Davidson family, "Uncle" Samuel C. Dickinson family, Michael K. Gaddis family, and Morris Smith. (A Sketch of the History of My Traveling from Southwest Missouri to Arizona; by James Clawson Bristow; October 5, 1909; manuscript; pages 1-4.)

The other people who were with this group included the families of: Nicodemus D. Hutcheson, Pankey, Parker, Stackhouse, and Waggner/Wagner. After arriving in the Verde Valley, not much is known about some of these families.

Apparently, the family of James Oliver Bristow left this group and traveled most of the way with the Joseph Roberts family, John Roberts [brothers of Elizabeth (Roberts) Davidson], William T. Moore, John Engles family, William Underhill family, and Miss Lizzie Copeland. (Pioneer Stories of Arizona's Verde Valley; 1933, 1954; The Verde Valley Pioneers Association; pages 55, 127, 130.)

The family of "Tommy" Smith [brother of Luranda (Smith) Bristow] with William Pleasant "Pleas" Bristow (great-grandson of William, grandson of Edward, son of William) [Hulda A. (Smith), oldest daughter of "Tommy" Smith] caught up with the wagon train. After passing Fort Smith, the wagon train caught up with the family of William Hawkins, who had about 100 cows and some horses. The wagon train now included a total of about 50 people. (A Sketch of the History of My Traveling from Southwest Missouri to Arizona; page 3.)

Martha Priscilla Burford was 12 years old in 1875. She remembered her family leaving their dear old home in Missouri, with their oxen named Baldy and Ben hitched to their wagon. They traveled with milk cows and their calves.

"Pres. Burford was chosen to be the Captain or Wagon Master. Near Hutchinson, Kansas, John Claxton, a young man, asked to travel with the wagon train, so Pres. Burford took him in. After the Big Arkansas Bend, Pres. assigned John Claxton and Morris Smith to ride along the foothills and watch for Indians; some time later John disappeared.

After a dispute about which road to use, the William Hawkins family, the "Parson" Bristow family with James Human, went their different northern way, with their herds of cattle and horses. They camped about a mile from Camp Verde on August 17, then went up the Verde River, where they camped on the west side of the river on August 18, 1875, at what would become known as the Middle Verde settlement.

Pres. Burford led the rest of the wagon train on the southern route. Before their journey ended, the families ran out of food and provisions. Pres. Burford said, "I will go to Camp Verde and take a pack horse with me and bring back a load of grub if anybody will go with me." Charley Dickinson volunteered to go with him. They took pack horses and went to Camp Verde, where Bill Head ran the sutler store. Martha Burford remembered, "It was close picking before they got back" four days later. The wagon train arrived on Beaver Creek at the Wales Arnold ranch on August 23, 1875.

Near Winslow, the Gaddis and Lett families had stopped to rest for a few days, then they joined a wagon train from Arkansas, arriving on Dry Beaver Creek, where McGuireville is now located, on August 28, 1875. They camped there awhile before moving down to the Verde.

(Pioneer Stories of Arizona's Verde Valley; pages 22, 58, 127, 130; and A Sketch of the History of My Traveling from Southwest Missouri to Arizona; pages 4-8.)

The first home of the Burford family was on Dry Beaver Creek, near what would become McGuireville. They built a cabin under the walnut trees. A cave was nearby where Elizabeth Burford kept milk and supplies. Pres. and Elizabeth became the parents of a baby boy who died soon after birth. His little coffin was taken to the Middle Verde Cemetery, where it was the second burial there. The first burial was another baby that died at birth in 1876, the son of James and Mary (Bristow) Human. Martha Burford and Charles Dickinson were married in March of 1878, while the family was still living on Dry Beaver Creek. Charles Dickinson, one of the first stage drivers, drove the mail stage from Prescott to Beaver Head Station. Many years later, the old rock wall the Burfords built still stood near the cave at their old home. (Pioneer Stories of Arizona's Verde Valley; pages 125, 126, 128.)

P. W. Burford, age 42, born in Virginia, was a resident of the Verde Valley when he was listed as #1230 on the Great Register of Yavapai County in 1876.

"Ditch Right: Notice; I the undersigned have this day claimed a ditch right for Agricultural purposes, having surveyed find head of said ditch is about 400 yds. above C. P. Head and Co's Cattle Camp on East side of Verde River in Yavapai County, Arizona Territory." "I the udersigned claim all the right and privileges that the law of the U. S. and Territory of Arizona allows a farmer and ditch owner. Camp Verde, Yavapai County, Jan. 7th 1877, P. W. Burford." ... (Yavapai County Recorder's Archives.)

"In 1877, six men formed the O.K. Ditch Comapny and began work on the ditch. these men were: Samuel Dickinson, Mitch Birch, Press Burford, M. K. Gaddis and a man by the name of Hughes, and James Davidson. The first year they got water to the first three ranches which they farmed. The next winter, 1878, they finished the ditch." (Pioneer Stories of Arizona's Verde Valley; page 130, see page 128.)

"The ox-train of Mr. Buford, loaded with Verde corn for Messrs. Wallenberg & Levy, arrived this afternoon, and deposited its freight with the firm." (The Weekly Arizona Miner; Prescott; August 10, 1877; page 4.)

The Burford family made their permanent home on the northeast bank of the Verde River, adjoining on the southeast, the north boundary of the Camp Verde Military Reservation. After living on this land for a minimum of 5 years, and making improvements, Preston W. Burford received a land patent (#148) on December 5, 1884. This homestead in Township 14-North, Range 4-East, was directly across the river from George W. Hull, who also received a land patent (#144) on December 5, 1884. Although the Verde River was not on Mr. Hull's land at the time of the survey, repeated floods moved the river southward until it washed away his old adobe store building.

"Parson" Bristow described Pres. Burford as a man that when he made up his mind to do anything it would be hard to turn him away from doing it. He had a strong passion to get rich. Pres. believed what Charlie Buster wrote, and believed that if he could get to the Salt River Valley, he would be in heaven on earth. When Pres. Burford finally got to the Salt River Valley, as it is so hot there, he discovered it was very far from heaven, so he turned and went to Oregon with his family (A Sketch of the History of My Traveling from Southwest Missouri to Arizona; page 1.)

PRESTON WILLIAMSON BURFORD was born in Virginia on October 24, 1835. He is the son of James Burford, born in Virginia on August 22, 1800, who married Mary Lewis Martin Bowles [daughter of John and Martha (Cocke) Bowles] in Goochland County, Virginia on January 18, 1826. James was a millwright and building contractor. Their children, born in Virginia are: Aikman (1863), Lucy Ann (1826-1842), John Nathaniel (1828-1848), James Thomas (1830-1871), William Hilman (1832-1907), Preston Williamson, and Mary Lewis (1838). The family moved to St. Charles County, Missouri, and grew with the births of: Boleman H. (1840-1841), Tarleton F. (1842-1899), Henry B. (1843-1952), Benjamin Franklin (1845-1903), Martha Ann Francis (1846), Virginia Luvenia (1948-1930), Samuellar J. (1850-1925), and John N. (1852). Preston W. Burford died in Oregon on February 1, 1911, at the age of 75, and is buried in row 3, near his wife in the Big Creek Cemetery, near the northern line of Baker County, Oregon.

ELIZABETH ANN (HORNBECK) BURFORD was born in Cooper County, Missouri, on November 9, 1836. She is the daughter of Samuel and Eleanor (Bass) Hornbeck. She died in Oregon on January 4, 1904, at the age of 67, and is buried in row 3, in the Big Creek Cemetery, Baker County, Oregon.

The children of Preston Williamson Burford and Elizabeth Ann (Hornbeck) Burford are:

JAMES SAMUEL BURFORD was born in Stockton, Cedar County, Missouri, on February 19, 1859. James S. Burford, age 21, born in Missouri, was a resident of the Verde Valley when he was listed as #3025 on the Great Register of Yavapai County, September 25 to Oct. 23, 1878. While working on the O.K. Ditch, he wrote about the discovery of ancient skeletons and relics on January 28, 1878. (The Verde Independent; "1877-1878: CENTRAL VERDE; Burfords, O.K. Ditch Company;" February 1, 2014.) James died at the age of 76, at La Grande, Union County, Oregon, on June 25, 1935.

MARY ELINOR (ELLA) BURFORD was born in Stockton, Cedar County, Missouri, on November 11, 1860. "Mary Elinor Burford married L. B. Banney" on July 4, 1878. (1865-1928 Marriage Licenses/Certificates, Yavapai County, page 77.) Luther B. Barney was born May 5, 1848 and died April 2, 1942, and is buried in the Saint David Cemetery, Cochise County, Arizona. His spouses are Ella (Burford) Woody and Cora Barney (1838-1924). Luther Benjamin and Mary Elinor (Burford) Barney are the parents of Ollie O. Barney (1879-1957). Mary Elinor Burford married her second husband, Calvin Crittington Black, on August 20, 1888. (1865-1928 Marriage Licenses/Certificates, page 298.) Mary Elinor Burford's third husband is John Woody, who was born in Oregon. He was a pioneer resident of Flagstaff, where he was the city marshal and deputy sheriff for many years. Mary Elinor (Burford) Barney Black Woody, age 38, died in Flagstaff on May 7, 1899, and is buried as Mrs. Ella Woody in the Citizens Cemetery in Flagstaff.

MARTHA PRISCILLA BURFORD was born in Stockton, Cedar County, Missouri, on February 1, 1863. She married Charles Dickinson, the son of Samuel C. and Adeline (Green) Dickinson, who was born in Iowa on August 23, 1853. Martha and Charles went to live in Cove, Oregon. During their 8 years there they became the parents of: Mary Rowena Dickinson, born on October 13, 1880 (Mrs. James Godfrey Van Deren); David M. (died young) and Dovie May Dickinson, both born August 7, 1882; and Archie Leroy Dickinson, born on February 25, 1886/7 (husband of Ellen Pearl Dickinson). When the family returned to the Verde Valley area, Charles went to work in Jerome for 7 years. Charles Dickinson bought a little farm from Mrs. Hattie Munds near Cornville and the family lived there for about 8 years. Children born near Cornville are Winifred Adeline "Minnie" Dickinson, born on September 2, 1895; George Arthur Dickinson, born on February 28, 1897 (husband of Maude Evelyn Cobert); Ruth Dickinson, born February 22, 1900 (Mrs. Powell); and Esther Irene Dickinson, born on October 26, 1902 (Mrs. Riley Lee). The Dickinson family moved to Clemenceau where Charles worked for the UVX from 1920 to 1923. He worked as the townsite carpenter. Charles went to California for a much needed rest and died in Ocean Beach on December 5, 1926. He is buried in the Cottonwood Cemetery, plot C 430. Martha P. (Burford) Dickinson was living in Scottsdale when she died in Phoenix on May 15, 1931. She is buried near her husband in plot C 428.

CLARA JANE BURFORD was born in Stockton, Cedar County, Missouri, on October 10, 1867. She became the wife of James N. Hulick. She died at the age of 65, at New Bridge, Baker County, Oregon, on March 10, 1933, and is buried near her parents in row 3, in the Big Creek Cemetery, Baker County, Oregon.

ARTHUR R. BURFORD was born in Stockton, Cedar County, Missouri, on January 24, 1873. He died at the age of 86, on March 3, 1959. He is buried in the Eagle Valley Cemetery, Richland, Baker County, Oregon, with his wife, Georgia A. Burford (1896-1954).

(Information online from Family Tree Maker,, Sharlot Hall Museum Library and Archives, Find a Grave, and from Pioneer Stories of Arizona's Verde Valley, pages 125, 126, 128.)

Event Calendar
Event Calendar link
Submit Event